While we all know that exact flight times and inflight turbulence can’t be predicted, we do at least expect that given unforeseen circumstances such as severe weather, to arrive at the correct airport. Given all of the high-tech equipment aboard airliners, whether it be the massive A380 or a small turboprop like the Saab 340, can it really be that difficult to locate and land at the right place?
Well, travel fans, the answer to this seemingly simple question is, yes. It can be that difficult as proven by the cockpit crew of United Express flight 4049 this past week. The aircraft, with 11 passengers and crew of three departed, was being operated by regional carrier Silver Airways, from Morgantown to Clarksburg, West Virginia. The route was a new one for the small Fort Lauderdale-based airline, but that doesn’t excuse the inability of the two pilots to find the right airport.
Instead of arriving in Clarksburg, the Saab 340, which can accommodate as many as 34 passengers, landed 10 miles away in Fairmont, West Virginia. After realizing their error, the flight continued on to its intended destination. The entire planned route was 29 air miles, making it pretty difficult to be 5 miles off-course.
While the FAA investigates the snafu, both pilots have thankfully been removed from service. Silver is in the process of developing a Washington-Dulles operation to support United Airlines mainline services.